Question: What do these people have in common?
Democrat Senators Evan Bayh of Indiana and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico and Congressional Representatives. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Rush Holt of New Jersey, Nita Lowey of New York, and Howard Berman, Susan Davis, George Miller, and Henry Waxman, all of California, Republican Senators. Robert Bennett of Utah, Richard Lugar of Indiana, and George Voinovich of Ohio and Congressional Representatives. Charles Boustany of Louisiana, Geoffrey Davis of Kentucky, John Duncan of Tennessee, Fred Upton of Michigan, and Greg Walden of Oregon (emphasis mine).
Answer: They all spent the five days over the Memorial Day â€œrecessâ€ in Rome, courtesy of the Aspen Institute. While in Rome, they (along with spouses, children or other relatives) stayed at the $480-a-night Rome Cavalieri Hilton. The purpose of the trip was for them to attend a seminar entitled, “Political Islam: Challenges for U.S. Policy.”
According to U.S. News & World Report:
House Democrat Rush Holt of New Jersey, who went to Rome defends the program and says the conferences are so good that he’s learned more from them than from official travel to Islamic countries. “Our day-to-day life in Congress is broken into 15-minute segments, 12 hours a day, so the program is among the best opportunities we have to delve into subjects,” he says. “They are one of few opportunities we have for deliberative, substantive, bipartisan looks at important subjects.”
What a load of baloney!
There are plenty of ways to learn about â€œpolitical Islamâ€ that donâ€™t involve a five-day, expense-paid trip to Rome, including a stay in a luxury hotel. I cannot help but wonder if all these Senators and Congressional Representatives and their families would have shown up for five days in Newark for the same seminar. To ask the question is to answer it.
It sure would be interesting to know who the sponsors of the Aspen Institute are so that taxpayers could watch how the seventeen Senators and Congressional Representatives who learned so much at this important seminar vote when our money is being handed out.